It won’t be soon before long

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  September 26, 2007

You say you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for Democratic state Senator Ethan Strimling to officially announce his candidacy for Maine’s 1st Congressional District seat?

Your meds may need adjusting.

And while you’re at the doctor's, get a prescription for the Portland Press Herald, which appears to have an unhealthy obsession with the senator’s slow progress.

Because what Strimling is doing in delaying his entry into the race may be on the high end of coy and the low end of ethical, but it’s dead center on traditional.

Strimling began his campaign in late 2006, but didn’t make any public statements about it until May 2007, when he announced ... uh ... an exploratory committee. And a bunch of fundraisers. Other than that, he said he was still thinking about running. More than four months later, he continues to ponder away.

This has provoked outrage among ... let’s see ... so far, just the Press Herald. This month, the newspaper devoted a column by Bill Nemitz and a news story by Paul Carrier to Strimling’s reluctance to take the plunge. As the paper noted, none of Strimling’s opponents expressed any concern about his extended foreplay. And if they don’t care, why should anybody else?

Actually, there are a couple of reasons, but I’ll get to those later.

Oddly enough, there was nothing in the Press Herald about other candidates who’ve employed this same delaying tactic in the past or even of one who’s trying it now. You’d have thought a crusading newspaper would've turned a critical eye on a guy who began laying the groundwork for a campaign two years in advance of the election, but didn’t announce his intentions until 10 months later. But nobody’s holding current Democratic Congressman Tom Allen up to such scrutiny, even though he launched his exploratory effort for the seat he now holds in November 1994 and delayed his announcement until September 1995.

Republican Ross Connelly also makes Strimling look over-eager. Connelly first admitted he was thinking of running against Allen in June 1997, but didn’t push the button until March ’98. In 1999, GOP nominee Jane Amero took seven months to get around to getting in the race. 2002 Republican challenger Steven Joyce and 2004 GOP candidate Charlie Summers both waited until February of the election year to declare their candidacies.

This election cycle, potential Republican candidate Steve Abbott has been lollygagging since late ’06, apparently unwilling to give up his job as US Senator Susan Collins’s chief of staff any earlier than he has to.

So, why the big push for Strimling to be in a big rush?

Two reasons, one legitimate, one not. Let’s do the not first.

The Press Herald is complaining that Strimling is being allowed to “raise money without having to disclose how much or from whom.” The paper cites a political scientist as claiming that without campaign finance reports, “it’s impossible to gauge Strimling’s credibility as a candidate.”

Those political scientists. Such comedians. By which I mean idiots.

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